QUESTION: I have five years left until I pay off my 30-year mortgage. I received an offer to refinance, which certainly is tempting, but I’m getting pretty close to retirement. Should I lighten my burden now or try to hold on for five more years?
ANSWER: While a lower payment would be appealing, I think you should try to avoid refinancing, if at all possible. Mortgage loans are amortized, which means you spend the early years paying most of the interest for the entire loan. In the later years, your payments are almost entirely principal.
You’re nearly home free - literally. You will have a much easier retirement without having to make those house payments. You can use the extra money to enjoy life. There is great security in owning your home free and clear. If you do end up needing money in retirement, you could always tap into your home’s equity through a reverse mortgage and still not have a monthly payment.
But if you absolutely need a lower payment now, you should try to refinance with as small of a loan as you can for the least amount of years.
For example, if your original loan had a monthly payment of $1,000 with a 6.5 percent interest rate, you could refinance with a 10-year loan at current rates and lower your payment to only $500 a month. But remember that while you would be cutting your payment in half, you’d also be on the hook for an extra five years. Is that worth it?
Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He is the chairperson of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is an adjunct professor for the Nova Southeastern University Paralegal Studies program. Send him questions online at http://sunsent.nl/mR20t7 or follow him on Twitter GarySingerLaw.
The information and materials in this column are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed. Nothing in this column is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney, especially an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.